Scroll to top

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol? Timeline and More

While cirrhosis scars from excessive drinking are irreversible, quitting alcohol and leading a healthier lifestyle can help your liver heal from alcohol-related liver disease. We surveyed 2,136 American adults who either wanted to stop drinking alcohol or had already tried to quit (successfully or not). We asked them about their alcohol use, reasons for drinking, alcohol-related outcomes, health and more. People who drink a significant amount or drink on a regular basis can develop a chemical dependence on the substance.

Are seizures a side effect of withdrawal?

Seizures are a common complication of substance use with up to 9% of status epilepticus cases being caused by recreational drugs or poison. This complication can be the result of substance withdrawal, specifically alcohol withdrawal which can occur 6 to 48 hours after an individual stops drinking.

A patient who has had a seizure should be observed in the hospital for at least 24 hours afterward. Long-term anticonvulsant therapy is not initiated for a seizure that is believed to be purely alcohol related. This is why skilled rehabilitation centers, where competent and compassionate professionals can supervise the detoxification process and manage withdrawal symptoms, are so vital for patient health and safety. Withdrawal and detox are the difficult first steps toward sobriety, but they are well worth taking. People who feel they aren’t ready to detox in a rehab facility sometimes try to taper off alcohol themselves. However, it’s important to keep in mind that tapering is rarely an effective approach to alcohol addiction treatment.

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (uncomplicated)

Delirium tremens (DTs), or “alcohol withdrawal delirium,” is one of the more extreme symptoms that can occur after quitting alcohol. It is marked by delirium and a change in the level of consciousness, and it can be fatal in 5% to 15% of cases. Older patients with a history of heavy alcohol use, a previous history of DTs, poor liver function and more severe withdrawal symptoms at the outset are more likely to experience DTs. Going through medical detox is the vital first step in recovering from alcohol use disorder. While the journey includes many other steps, they can’t be completed until this first one is completed.

How do I know if I will have a seizure?

General symptoms or warning signs of a seizure can include: Staring. Jerking movements of the arms and legs. Stiffening of the body.

Most treatment options may include the administration of long-acting benzodiazepines. During initial treatment, a person may receive a higher dosage of benzodiazepines to reduce symptoms and the urge to drink alcohol. After symptoms subside, a doctor will taper the dose until they determine the individual no longer requires medication. It is worth noting, though, that DTs do not occur in everyone withdrawing from alcohol and generally affect only those with long-term addictions (several years or more).

The Three Main Stages of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptom (AWS)

In addition, certain medications (e.g., beta blockers) may blunt the manifestation of these symptoms. Unfortunately, unsupervised home detox can carry significant risks, and can be extremely challenging if you don’t have a firm grasp on the alcohol withdrawal timeline and the accompanying dangers. By 72 hours, most of the symptoms of minor withdrawal will be replaced by more severe symptoms. Moderate or severe symptoms will likely peak before or around 72 hours. Those who have not experienced DTs in the earlier stages of withdrawal are still at risk for developing symptoms up to 10 days after alcohol use has been discontinued. Prior to moving on to stabilized inpatient or outpatient therapy, alcohol withdrawal may need to be treated for several weeks in extreme situations.

alcohol withdrawal seizure timeline

Also, consider these risk factors for any patient presenting with seizures of unknown etiology. Delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal, and its hallmark is that of an alcohol withdrawal seizure altered sensorium with significant autonomic dysfunction and vital sign abnormalities. It includes visual hallucinations, tachycardia, hypertension, hyperthermia, agitation, and diaphoresis.

What is the alcohol withdrawal timeline?

As a process, alcohol withdrawal begins within hours of the last drink, and causes acute withdrawal symptoms that can last for up to 5 days. The duration and quantity of alcohol directly impacts the alcohol detox timeline and withdrawal timeline. Any underpinning physical or mental health conditions will also influence how long alcohol withdrawal lasts. AWS (alcohol withdrawal syndrome) refers to the physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms that present when a heavy drinker moderates or discontinues the use of alcohol.

  • This is why the National Institute of Drug Abuse  recommends more than just supervised detox.
  • In a medical setting, trained professionals can monitor the withdrawal symptoms and be prepared to administer any necessary medications.
  • Other drugs often used to manage symptoms include neuroleptics, anticonvulsants like carbamazepine, and valproic acid.
  • Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal and can lead to a number of dangerous and life-threatening symptoms if not done in a medically supervised environment.
  • Intravenous fluids should not be administered routinely in patients with less severe withdrawal, because these patients may become overhydrated.
  • Hallucinations are rare, but they do occur in some cases during detoxification.
  • Patients who become financially strapped due to alcoholism could ingest other alcohols to become intoxicated.

When the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome are mild, an outpatient setting (i.e. an outpatient alcohol treatment center) may be preferred. Outpatient settings generally require you to have someone who will support you and stay with you throughout the withdrawal process. You will also be required to visit your health care provider on a daily basis. Long-term alcohol addicts are more likely to experience uncomfortable alcohol withdrawal timeline symptoms. Additionally, if not handled under medical care, some withdrawal symptoms experienced throughout the detox process could be fatal.

Many people stop experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms four to five days after their last drink. Alcohol withdrawal will begin once the levels of alcohol in the bloodstream drop below what is normal for the person. Mild symptoms may begin as early as six hours after the last drink for some people. The time it takes withdrawal to start depends on factors like age, gender, genetics, overall health and alcohol use history. The severity of alcohol withdrawal can be categorized into three levels or stages—mild, moderate, and severe.

  • Alcohol withdrawal refers to a condition that may occur when an individual with alcohol use disorder suddenly stops or significantly reduces their alcohol consumption.
  • Monitor for signs of oversedation in all patients with AWS receiving pharmacological therapy.
  • In some cases, symptoms may progress to severe withdrawal with seizures and delirium tremens.

Progressively larger amounts of alcohol are needed to achieve the same physical and emotional results. The drinker eventually must consume alcohol just to avoid the physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Remember you are facing a difficult challenge during alcohol withdrawal, but you are not alone.

“Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline” Infographic

Chronic or heavy drinking exposes you continuously to these depressant effects. Your brain will respond by producing chemicals to mitigate this imbalance, counteracting the sluggish feeling that episodes of heavy drinking can induce. The person experiencing DTs is disoriented and unaware that their hallucinations are not real.

And they can hide their dependence, for a long while, under the guise of “heavy drinking.” That’s what makes alcohol sneaky-dangerous. So, alcohol detox and withdrawal information are vitally important for individuals (and their loved ones) struggling with alcohol addiction. Your brain attempts to compensate for this by making less GABA and more glutamate. Your brain can’t keep up with this imbalance when you suddenly quit drinking, and the results of these unbalanced neurotransmitters are withdrawal symptoms such as jitteriness, tremors, and anxiety.

Related posts